April 2, 2014
FMT LETTER: From Puthan Perumal, via e-mail
For many people, the thought of changing a government seems to create an atmosphere of rebellion or violence, or feelings to that effect. We seem to have the notion that changing a government is a bad and negative thing and that it would seem being not loyal and to a certain extent, ungrateful even. In fact, some would think that having this very discussion on this topic would be in violation of some law or another. This baseless notion could not been any further from the truth.
In order to appreciate the concept of changing a government, (and yes, it is a concept which exists and is very real), one must first understand the concept of a government. As the word ‘government’ suggests, it would not be too far fetched to say that it relates to the word ‘governance’. To put is in simple words, a government consists of caretakers or trustees who are in charge of a nation’s wealth and the welfare and security of its citizens. Hence, that is why they are known as public servants.
These caretakers or trustees combine to make up a group of people known as your government who are there to serve the citizens of a nation. They essentially govern a nation. Hence, it is noble profession, for all intents and purposes.
Apart from the public sphere of a government that affects us as citizens, there is a ‘government’ in almost every private aspect of our lives as well. We just don’t realise it. From schools to household issues to working life or even to sports and religious matters, we all are governed by some rule and framework.
And in that rule or framework, there is a government that ensures that that rule or framework is in place. How that ‘government’ functions in a private aspect of our lives varies and is dependent on the culture of a particular society and in which part of the world we live in. These varying cultures and languages and ways of life gives the colour of diversity its true meaning.
However, there is one constant that cuts across the board, no matter where we live or what culture we celebrate, or what language we speak, and that is the concept of change in governance. When a rule or framework, that ‘governs’ our private lives be it, as stated earlier, from schools to household issues to working life or even to sports and religious matters, continuously causes our private lives to be marred with ongoing violence and fear and threat and intimidation and dishonesty and lies and unfairness, (and the list can very well go on), we tend to pause for a moment and begin to ponder and contemplate whether we are on the right path or not.
Or, is there a need for a change in that rule or framework that is governing our private lives which is causing so much misery and negativity? We would then come to notice that there actually is a choice for us to perhaps choose a different set of rules or framework that may create a brighter and happier atmosphere for all concerned. After all, why live by a rule or framework that is continuously causing you misery?
Therefore, having realised that we have a choice to put an end to the suffering in our private lives caused by a rule or framework that does not work for us, we must then gather the courage and conviction to voice out our concerns to those in charge of our ‘governance’ so that that rule or framework be removed and changed with a suitable one. In order for your concerns to heard in an even louder tone, try asking your neighbour to join you and voice out his or her concerns as well.
Having voiced your concerns and should your concerns fall on deaf ears, the problems is not with you for voicing out your concerns, it is with those who refuse to address your concerns. So, at this point, it would become abundantly clear in your mind that the only way to remove a not workable rule or framework is to remove those who insist on the continuity of that not workable rule or framework, and to replace them with a new set of people who would introduce a new rule or framework suitable for you and your neighbor.
Similarly, this choice is present and very real and applies equally in the concept of a change in a government in the public sphere. If the conduct and actions of public servants which make up the government border on incompetence and arrogance and abuse of position, we have a choice and every right to remove them. If rules and regulations introduced by a government promote corruption, discrimination, hatred, poverty, (and the list can very well go on), then we have a choice and every right to remove those rules and regulations.
The issue that may arise is what do we do when a current government continues to behave in an incompetent, arrogant and domineering manner? What do we do when the current government refuses to remove rules and regulations that breed corruption, discrimination, hatred and poverty ? It would seem that the natural thing to do is to bring in a new set of people that would not behave in an incompetent, arrogant and domineering manner, and that would remove those rules and regulations but rather introduce laws that promote fairness, equality and accountability.
That brings us to the topic of the discussion which is how to peacefully and legally change a government. The following are 10 things you should know:
Know that it is your right to change a government
A government works for you and is suppose to attend to your needs and welfare as a citizen. If that is not happening, you are at liberty to choose someone else who will do that. It is as simple as that.
Know that it is your right to spread awareness to others that it is also their right to change a government
As a member of a larger society, we are all connected to each other in terms of citizenship and therefore no one can stop us from having a discourse with others on the right to change a government. Having a discussion on whether to change a government is not in violation of any law worth recognising.
Know that it is your right to meet government representative of your locality and to find out what he or she stands for
As a public servant, your government representative owes a duty to you. He or she might be elected but you must be sure that he or she will fight for your cause and concerns, and that the actions taken are consistent with your cause or concerns.
Know that it is your right to always question your current government
Be aware of what your government is up to and what laws are being passed that will govern you. Being aware of what is happening with the government is the only way you can question your government. It is not against any law to question your government.
Know that it is your right to voice your concerns to your current government
If you are doubtful about something that the government has done, or has not done, or is currently doing, ask and get answers. It is their duty to answer you and give you an explanation.
Know that it is your right to voice your dissatisfaction to your current government
If you are unhappy with something the government has done, or has not done, or is currently doing, state your case and demand a clarification. Your dissatisfaction must be taken into consideration, and a correction must be done if necessary. Do not take no for an answer. Do not put up with incompetence.
Know that it is your right to meet other potential government representatives of your locality and to find out that he or she stands for
As potential or future public servants, there are many who offer themselves to serve the public but eventually only one gets elected to a particular locality. But that does not mean those who did not get elected are of any less caliber . You have the right to talk to them as well and explore the possibility that they might fight for your cause or concerns. There is nothing wrong with this.
Have an open mind for change of government
Do not be under this ridiculous notion that the country will be in chaos and anarchy if there is a change in government. There is no such thing. There is already a governance system in place which will continue to run and ensure that the day to day dealings carry on. Your bank will still be functioning, your kids will still be going to school and the post office would still be open. Changing government is not a declaration of war resulting in emergency. Your life will still go on but the only difference is different people will be governing the nation’s affairs. That is the only difference.
Do not feel restricted by elements of fear or intimidation by your current government (if any)
Emotional blackmail affect people sometimes. Do not fall for that trick. Your loyalty is not in question when it comes to change in government. Remember, you decide who the government is and no amount of violence can change that fact, or be of any use to anyone for that matter.
Come out to vote for change of government during election day
It is absolutely crucial for you to come out on election day and vote. That is the only physical way you can get to change a government. And voting is the only way that will ensure a change of government happens at the end of the day.
The writer is an Advocate & Solicitor
~ Free Malaysia Today